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Washington 19, Us 15, America 9, Michael Beschloss 8, Clinton 7, Sasha 6, United States 6, Obama 6, Lyndon Johnson 6, James Peterson 5, Afghanistan 5, Sally Quinn 5, Alex Witt 5, Eleanor Clift 4, Malia 4, Peter Alexander 4, Garth 4, Vietnam 4, Msnbc 3, D.c. 3,
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  MSNBC    Weekends With Alex Witt    News  News/Business. New.  

    January 20, 2013
    9:30 - 11:00am PST  

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officemax can help you drive suand down.s down... use your maxperks card and get a 10-ream case of officemax multiuse paper for just 4.99 after maxperks rewards. find thousands of big deals now... at officemax. >> the office of president of the united states. >> the office of president of the united states. >> and will to the best of my ability. >> and will to the best of my ability. >> preserve, protect, and defend. >> preserve, protect, and defend. >> the constitution of the united states. >> the constitution of the united states. >> so help you god? >> so help me god. >> congratulations, mr. president. >> thank you, mr. chief justice. thank you so much. >> the ceremony happened in the spare blue room of the white house fulfilling a constitutional requirement. tomorrow rewe will be there for
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the ceremony on the steps of the capit capitol, that familiar scene before the eyes of the nation and tens of thousands there to glimpse history in person. the president will raise his right hand in a moment for the ages. good afternoon, everyone. i'm alex witt. we are live from washington, d.c. in this next hour and a half, we'll try to bring perspective and context to the second inaugural and this historic presidency. my panel is joining me right now from "washington post," the columnist sally quinn, nbc news presidential historian michael beschloss, james peterson, director of africana studies at lehigh, and joey grio, msnbc contributor. >> now the program is over. >> long intro because you all deserve it. sally, i read through your article, and it was a wonderful one here talking about it's not just for washington, it's all about americans when it comes to
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what happens in the second inaugural. tell me, why do we need a second inauguration? there are many twwho wonder whe it's the same president why bother? >> of course our famed michael beschloss in my piece. i think it's the second inaugural could well be more important than the first because it's sort of a reaffirmation of what this president has done. and it is -- there is an elite group, the most elite group in the world is the group of presidents of the united states. >> right. and the most elite of the elite are the group who have been re-elected. >> mm-hmm. >> and so i think that this is their chance, this is obama's chance to really say put it out there and say this is -- the first time is really -- this is what i want to do, and the second time is, like, this is what i want to be. and i think that in a case of a black president it's even more important because the first time
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around it was jubilant, it was the first black president, it was so exciting. the second time around is this wasn't a fluke. this guy really did it. he did a good job, and the american people reaffirmed that he did a good job and re-elected him. and so many-in some way because he's a black president i think that the second inaugural for him is more important than the first. >> well, that is the reason for the second inaugural. let's go to nbc's peter alexander because peter was there for that d -- the more intimate inaugural, if you will, having been sworn in some 35 minutes ago, give us some details. >> reporter: alex, this ceremony lasted barely a minute, the president surrounded only by his immediate family, chief justice john roberts, whose wife was there, as well as the press secretary, jay carney. but really a small number of individuals in that room as he was sworn in just a short time ago. inaugural planners are looking outside as we stand just in front of the reviewing stand, the exact place where the president and his family will
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watch the parade pass tomorrow, saying we could only wish this weather will stick around for the next 24 hours. but of course the real ceremonies take place for most americans that come here, as we have noted before, roughly 600,000 to 800,000 americans expected tomorrow, roughly a third of the nearly 2 million here four years ago. after all the ceremony and the pomp and the pageantry we return to governing. on "meet the press" we heard from david axelrod about some of the challenges the president will face. >> rebuilding the economy in which the american dream, the american compact is fresh where people who work hard feel like they can get ahead. that's not just about dealing with the fiscal crisis. it's about education, research and development, controlling our energy future. all of these are part of the equation, and we can't just do one piece of it. >> roughly 24 hours from now we will hear the president lay out some of those plans for the course of the next four years.
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david playofoffe, the president completed writing his remarks. now we just wait to hear what he has to say. >> and there were other active tifs involving the vice president. he was sworn in for a second time today. tell us about that. >> that took place about 8:20 this morning. he was sworn in by his choosing by the justice sonia sotomayor. a lot of people were asking why did that happen roughly 8:00 this morning. because the justice is actually on book tour right now. she had a previous commitment in new york. she had to hustle to a train to make that commitment in new york city today. so it took place early this morning. vice president joe biden surrounded by his family over at the naval observatory, his residence, for the swearing-in. only a matter of hours ago today. he put his hands on a family
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19th century bible with his family for years and that he has been sworn in using since he was first in the senate in 1973. alex? >> okay. peter alexander, thank you very much for the update on both fronts. we appreciate that. back to the panel now, and sally was telling us, michael, you were quoted in her article. in fact, you talked about the unifying nature of a second inaugural. that is part of the reason for doing this. >> sure. you know, we have got in america very few unifying ceremonies and we are in a political system and a country that in certain ways is more fractured than ever. here's one opportunity you wouldn't want to miss. the other thing is that i think we forget sometimes what it was like when barack obama came in. you know, the banking system and the economy were both falling apart, two wars were going on, not doing well, other problems. he didn't have the luxury that most presidents have to come in and say these are the four things i think are important to achieve to take the country forward. so in a way we should get more
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of an idea from this speech of who he is, what he wants to do than we did the first time. >> what do you expect, james, to be addressed tomorrow? >> well, i think it will be very hopeful and i think that there will be more policy sort of subtly laden in this speech about what the secretary needs to be. i think there will be stuff in there about commonsense gun safety, about immigration reform, the things i think this immigration wants to really try to get done in a second term. i agree with the panel, too, that the first inauguration was really symbolic and really powerful. and this one, it is a little more about what will be the policies and the legacy of this administration. i think at the end of the day all of us are sort of excited. if you're here in d.c. so, exciting to be here right now. >> it is. >> it's powerful to be in the nation's capital when people are here excited about our leadership. we're so cynical sometimes so the vibe in d.c. right now is really powerful and it's interesting to be here. >> sally, you wrote about how you washingtonians can be a little jaded -- >> a little bit? >> a lot jade and dealing with
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the traffic jams but then the infusion of us from new york and everybody else around the country and it makes a difference. it is exciting. it is palpably so. >> you know, we have to sort of step back if you live in washington. we have to step back and look at the excitement that people bring to this, because we do see it every four years. it's not something new. there are traffic jams, and the balls are really pretty awful, you know? i mean -- >> i don't know. i liked my dress. >> party planners are cringing everywhere right now. >> you know, i mean, people who have been to one say it's like going to times square on new year's eve. you've done it once. and, you know, there's just a lot that we see over and over again. then, you know, you can't get around and, you know, the security is terrible. and so we have to sort of say, what is this like for the rest of the people out there? because for once this becomes --
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well, it should be always -- the people's city. this is for people all over the country. this is for people who have been out there in husings, who have been marching in the streets and knocking door to door. >> that's right. >> and the high school bands. >> absolutely. >> this is one major moment in their life. >> it is. >> and, you know, just talking about it gives me chills. so, you know, i'm sort of conflicted by being part washingtonian, thinking ho hum, another -- and the other part of me very patriotic saying this is who we are, this is what democracy looks like. we're the greatest country in the world. >> we are, indeed. there's no disputing on that. i would like to bring in joy ann. joy ann, i want to talk to you about the speech. listening to chuck todd in the last half hour, he talked about how inaugural speeches are often used to outline a second agenda. then there was another article i read in which it said it's actually more about defining the legacy that a president hopes to achieve. where do you lie on those two
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idealologies or is it one and the same? >> i think it's more legacy because you're going to have then the state of the union where you get into agenda. maybe it's the hopeful, wistful lover of great speeches in me, but i would hope what the president would do in his second inaugural would be to lay out kind of a big vision and not get too deep into the policy weeds. i think it's a big time for him to go big and lay out what he feels he wants his legacy to be and what he wants america to look like four years from now. i think if he goes big and tries to give a grand, eloquent speech, something he hasn't done -- he's gone a lot more pedestrian and workmanlike in the way he speak, but he has the capability of doing it. i would love to see him do something on the order of a "yes, we can." i think the country kind of needs the jolt of inspiration. >> thank you all for that. we'll take a short break. we'll be back with all that. we do want to talk about dinner with the president because two of our guests are going to tell us what that was like.
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rebuild an economy in which the american dream, the american compact is fresh, where people who work hard feel like they can get ahead? >> he's going to see common ground, find every way he can to compromise, but he's going to be pret i can ty clear, and we're also going to bring the american people more into the debate than we did in the first term. >> doris kearns goodwin, presidential historian and author most recently of "team of rivals" and msnbc's presidential historian michael beschloss. to say it's an honor is an understatement. i love having you both on. doris, lit's talk about the president who has sat down with historians, the two of you, among the nine that came in the summer of 2009. talk about his appreciation for history and how he plans to incorporate what he learns, that breadth of knowledge in present day. >> i think it's so important for a president to care about history. it gives them a whole set of layering experience just to learn from, not just their own
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term. for ex middle of a cold strike, he was reading about lincoln. when harry truman was worrying about firing mcarthur, he's reading about mcclellan, what did lincoln do about mcclellan. you think about your own life, learn from your own experiences. he will have learned from this fist term an enormous set of things to take with him to the second term, strengthed and weaknesses. but you can learn from all these guys before you, like learning from your grandparents and great grandparents. great when a president cares about history. >> give me a measure, michael, of how much this president is attuned to history, how much it plays a part of his lady life. i know i've read he tries to find up to three hours a day and night between 9:00 and midnight to read. >> he is above all a writer, so not surprising given what this is his day job is. but, you know, i think the most revealing thing was just after the election he gave that press conference and was asked about second terms. you remember? he said i am very familiar with the literature on second-term
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overreach. we both loved lyndon johnson. i don't think he ever read two words on second-term overreach. probably should have. but the point is that he is very aware of what has gone before and he knows that if you don't read all these books about previous presidents, previous leaders, really in world history, you're limiting yourself to yore own personal experience and that is pretty bad. >> is there a particular president, doris, with whom this president identifies the most or respects the most? >> well, i think when he first came into office, obviously, lincoln mattered a great deal to him. i mean, in part probably because the emancipation proclamation, the end of slavery, and he's the first african-american president, almost like closing that circle. but i think as his term went on he was reading about franklin roosevelt, teld di roosevelt. i think there's a sense when the problems change the president that you look back to changes as well. otherwise, we historians would be useful if we didn't help other know what i mean the future. >> one example of this in
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history is that lincoln at the beginning of his presidency idolized george washington, thought a lot about him, but as the problems got more difficult, as he became in certain ways more radical he was much more interested in people like thomas jefferson. there is that evolution. >> so is there a concern that this president expressed when you had that intimate dinner about looking at history and where other presidents went wrong? >> i think most presidents know that in this off the record dinner. we won't go into a sort of a transcript, but i think you can see very much in terms of what he says in public and what he does that this is someone who, for instance, if you talk about lyndon johnson and the war in vietnam he not only know what is people are talking about but this was reported in that first year when he was making those decisions about whether or not to escalate the war in afghanistan. he wrote a book that told in great detail about the pitfalls that lyndon johnson faced when he tried to do that in vietnam. >> are there presidents who have been in similar situations as
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this president? can you look at where he is, economic issues, war issues, other issue like that, social issues, poverty issues that you can say there are analogies to be made? >> it's a really complicated time now. i mean, clearly the recession wasn't as big as the depression. but at least fdr was able to concentrate on the domestic politics for a number of years before the war broke out on the horizon. but now you've got that world banging in from the outside in, he had to deal with two wars, very unstable situation ray ai broad and he still has economic trouble and he's got the modern-day bully pulpit problems. the bully pulpit used to be stronger in the old days because you could give a speech and everybody listened to it or everybody read it or lincoln's speech would be in the newspapers. now your attention is so divided, on the internet, a blog, a twitter and the next problem comes up and that takes the television's news or internet's news. dwroint have that concentration that the earlier presidents had. >> it has been said, michael,
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when a president has to deal with wars overseas, it is difficult to invoke a domestic agenda. do you think that is the case now for economic reasons if for nothing else, considering how much these wars in iraq and afghanistan are costing? >> oh, yes. i think from very beginning he was determined to end those as quickly as possible in a way that wouldn't damage american interests. and he was very much aware -- you see it in all sorts of things he has said -- about the fact when lyndon johnson escalated the war in vietnam, took the money away he would have liked to have spent on a lot of domestic program, he knew war tends to kill reform, that was one of his motives i think in making sure iraq and afghanistan were not still going when he was no longer president. >> all right. well, i could take a class from each of you and i would sit in the front row. but unfortunately we're going to take a break. not before thanking you, doris kearns goodwin, michael beschloss, thank you very much. >> thanks, alex. growing up in the white house. how enforcing the zone of privacy around the obama girls might be hardener the next four
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dthd . a live look at the white house where just about an hour ago president obama took the official oath of office. tomorrow the public swearing-in will take place in front of several hundred thousand people. the president is not the only one in the spotlight for the past four years. we have seen sasha and malia obama grow up right before our eyes. malia is now a high school freshman and her little sister, sasha, is in her first year of medical school -- not medical school. middle school. she didn't grow up that fast.
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>> maybe one day. >> maybe. never know. she's smart enough. nbc's kristen welker is live at the white house with a look at the first daughters. hello, kristen. >> reporter: hey, alex. well, good afternoon. it is amazing how much they have grown, though, and those who know the family well say these next four years will bring new challenges and some new perks. >> and now, the president of the united states. >> reporter: the night belonged to their father. but when malia and sasha stepped onto the stage at grant park election night it was hard not to marvel at how much they had matured. >> even i was struck on election night this year just seeing how much they have grown from four years ago. >> reporter: they were so young when they moved into the white house. sasha just 7 and malia 10. now at 11 and 14, even the president recently remarked at how much has changed for them and for him. >> now that my girls are getting older they don't want to spend that much time with me anyway. i'm getting kind of lonely in
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this big house. >> reporter: from the start the obamas worked hard to shield the first daughters from a harsh spotlight. the public only catching occasional glimpses. grabbing shaved ice with their pare parents in hawaii. reading books to kids during the annual easter egg roll. >> and it was still hot. >> the end. >> reporter: and celebrating the traditions of the holidays. but they were pulled into the political arena last week in a biting television ad from the national rifle association. >> are the president's kids more important than yours? >> reporter: in forcing a zone of privacy could be more challenging in this second term. >> it needs to stay in place now more than ever, where the zone of privacy has shrunk more and continued to because of social media. >> reporter: myers says there are also benefits. the girls will be more comfortable in their surroundings. and have already created a close-knit group of friends. the first lady recently telling ellen she has worked hard to
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make 1600 pennsylvania avenue as normal as possible. >> they have rules they have to make their -- they have to clean their rooms, clean their bathrooms. they have to take bo out. >> reporter: over the next four year, malia will be nearing college age and sasha becoming a preteen, formative years that will shape who they become well after they leave. and of course there will be a lot of attention paid to what malia and sasha wear tomorrow. undoubted through their mom will play a big role in that. a lot of people watching what she'll be wearing as well. alex? >> i remember j. crew crew cuts for the girls last time around. we'll see. thank you so much. the honeymoon period for second-term presidents. what should president obama expect this time? that story at the top of the hour. [ ryon ] eating shrimp at red lobster
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>> so help you god? >> so help me god. >> congratulations, mr. president. >> thank you, mr. chief justice. thank you so much. president barack obama officially begins his second term flanked by his family, the president took the oath of office shortly before noon eastern time. it is a prelude of sorts to the ceremonial events tomorrow that unfold on the steps of this nation's capitol where the president will express his vision for america and attempt to inspire new hope and faith for a brighter, more prosperous day ahead in a country of, for, and by the people. good day to all of you, and welcome to "weekends with alex witt." we're live in the nation's capital after the president's private swearing-in and on the eve of the public inauguration. i'm joined by nbc news presidential historian michael beschloss, "washington post" columnist sally quinn, james peterson, director of africana studies and associate professor of english at lehigh university and "newsweek" and "daily beast" contributor eleanor clift.
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welcome to all four of you. history unfolding before our eyes today in the blue room of the white house. here is president obama officially taking the oath of office for his second term as commander in chief. please raise your right hand and repeat after me. i, barack hussein obama, do solemnly swear. >> i, barack hussein obama, do solemnly swear. >> that i will faithfully execute. >> that i will faithfully execute. >> the office of president of the united states. >> the office of president of the united states. >> and will to the best of my ability. >> and will to the best of my ability. >> preserve, protect, and defend. >> preserve, protect, and defend. >> the constitution of the united states. >> the constitution of the united states. >> so help you god? >> so help me god. >> congratulations, mr. president. >> thank you, mr. chief justice. thank you so much. thank you, sweetie. >> final preparations are going on right now for tomorrow's public swearing-in and the festivities. day kicks off with the president attending church services right here in washington. for more on tomorrow's program and all the tight security around it, let's head over the
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capitol hill and nbc's ron mott with a good sunday to you, ron. what can we expect for the public inauguration tomorrow? >> hey, there, alex. good day to you. we don't expect this beautiful sunshiny weather that we've got right now. we wish we were holding this inauguration today. as you mentioned, the president and the vice president have been sworn in, so they have begun their second terms. and what was interesting, a little break from tradition, they did not get sworn in in the same location. the vice president, because of a scheduling issue with justice sotomayor, had his swearing in about three hours before the president over at the naval observatory, the vice president's official residence. of course as we saw the president received oath of office from chief justice john roberts. what was interest, after the oath was taken, sasha obama apparently said to her dad, you did great, you didn't mess up. of course a reference to last year when the chief justice misappropriated some words there. and the president repeated that error. they had to do that all over again. this year, of course, they're going to do it twice. tomorrow is a ceremonial swearing-in behind me.
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you can hear a choir practicing. let's look at the highlights of the schedule tomorrow. it begins about 11:30 followed by the vice president taking the oath again from justice sotomayor at 11:45. the president will again be sworn in at 11:55. then he'll give the inaugural address followed by the parade and then later two official balls. now, in terms of what he is going to say, his senior adviser had this so to say. >> i think it will be a hopeful speech. i'll let the president speak for himself obviously but i think he'll remind the country our founding principles still can guide us in a changing, modern world. he's going to talk about fact our political system doesn't require us to solve all our disputes or differences but doesn't compel us to act where there should and is common ground. >> reporter: there should be a little more elbow room for the folks coming tomorrow. of course four years ago close to 2 million people attended the inauguration.
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they're expecting about a third of that. but still a pretty good crowd somewhere in the 600,000 to 700,000 to 800,000 range. >> not too shabby. thank you, ron mott. to my inaugural panel. presidential historian michael beschloss, "washington post" columnist sally quinn, james peterson, associate professor of english at lehigh university, and eleanor clift, contributor to "newsweek" and the daily beast. ron talked about sasha commenting. nothing like your kids to keep you humble. >> although it was the chief justice who made the mistake. >> well, that's right. but we certainly were all listening to make sure he got it delight time. >> exactly. >> michael, nate silver who has a piece today looking at first-year approval ratings of second-term presidents. most presidents got a big bump after their re-election. not so for both presidents obama and bush. tell me what happened?
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>> well, we're in a modern time where people are a skeptical about presidents and they came into their second terms after tough and hard-fought campaigns in contrast to a bill clinton or some of others. but even the president who is come in with very high ratings usually tend to plun nj the second term. twigt eisenhower, one of the most popular presidents ever in american history, by 1957 late and 15958, his ratings were down to about 40%, which was very low in those days. in a way it's an index to the fact the second term president is doing well because you want to see him spending political capital. if he leaves really popular, it may mean he hasn't done enough. >> since world war ii only presidents reagan and clinton went up in popularity? >> indeed. >> a hard act to follow and statistically you're not looking at necessarily more popularity. >> absolutely. >> people come in for a second
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term and think, okay, now i can relax, i don't have to campaign anymore and i can go do my business. the problem is they are focused on their legacy and things always go wrong in the second term. always, always, always. there's not a president you can mention. they have to sort of stay stay on their toes. they can't relax and just say this is my second term, i'm not -- >> if p you look at what happened recently, newtown, connecticut, gun control, this is something the president has to face. it may have been on his agenda but not in a big way. >> and he made the choice to respond. >> we'll see how this unfolds based on the randomness of life and disasters and great things happen plus what this administration wants to try to get done. >> how does it manifest itself in terms of the president's ability to actually accomplish thing, james? >> i think there are a couple things. you take what the defense gives you as a president.
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obviously the economy to contend with, gun control. i think immigration will be able to get worked into this. i think the administration has the to sort of wrap its arms around the combination of what happens in life around the world and what they want to try to get done. when they overlap. i do believe this administration was interested in gun control or commonsense gun safety even without a newtown massacre. when they overlap, you have to push hard and use the political will of an administration to get things done. >> if you want to call it a honeymoon period, people say as long as two years and other mrs. cynical say we're going to give him 100 day, re-evaluate and see how much capital he has. >> i would give him act six to eight months to get things in congress. after that people will be starting to think about the midterm elections. even democrats will have to go back to their districts and -- if they cast too many votes that take risk for the president, they won't do that forever. after that period, it's more
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into foreign policy. >> eleanor, i'm curious how much you think approval ratings matter in a second term. you are not running for office again, but let's face it, popularity will also potentially equate with political capital. >> well, that's right. popularity equates with how much you can get done on capitol hill. i heard you say that bill clinton was one of two president who is rose in popularity second term nap's despite he was impeached. >> small detail. >> he was able to cash in on that because he pitted the american people against the congress. that's the opening this president has. i'm heartened by the fact they'll take organizing for america and make it organizing advocacy. i don't know why they didn't do that in the first term. i'm pretty optimistic about what he can get done. we've seen transformation in american society with the acceptance of gay marriage, transformation in the media. there could be transformations on capitol hill.
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if the president isn't able to accomplish, for example, his gun control agenda, who's going to look bad on that? that could have reverberations in the midterm and where the democrats could take back the house. lots of opportunities for this president. i wouldn't write him off after six or eight months. >> like i say -- >> i wasn't saying write him off. i'm just saying that's the window he's got to do a lot of things with congress. >> eleanor's optimism i guess could be translated to a sense of political capital. we remember the famous line george w. bush delivered saying i've earned political capital and i'm going to use it -- or spend it, rather. how much political capital did this president earn in his first term? i want you all to weigh in on that quickly. >> i think it was manifest in the fact that he got re-elected by a rather decent margin. even an opposition party who reads election returns that may mean something but after the fist year it means less and less. the result is if a president is
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more and more frustrated in congress, what second-term presidents have tended to do is, one, try do more by executive action, as president obama is already trying to do with gun control, and the other thing is they get more involved in foreign policy than perhaps before because that's something they could do without consulting congress every hour. >> the death of osama bin laden was huge. and that gave him an enormous amount of political capital. but there are so many things that he can't predict. i mean with ronald reagan, he had iran/contra, and that really pulled -- you talk about being able to accomplish things, that really got in the way of him trying to accomplish anything in the last couple of years. and then monica lewinsky thing just absolutely hobbled bill clinton. >> took over. >> he couldn't do anything the last two years. he was totally focused on protecting himself and defending himself. so i'm not saying that obama will get himself into something like that, but you just don't know what's going to happen. you don't know -- and you don't
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know how you're going to react. >> james? >> the randomness of political reality is important to keep in mind. two other things to focus on. i think this administration has more political capital than it has accessed because this coalition of voters that put him back in office is really a broad constituency. they've got to speak to those folks to the left of them. very important. the folk on the right, intractable folk in the congress, i don't think -- there is no honeymoon for those guys. they're back at it. he has more political capital to him on the left and needs to access that and meet the needs of the constituencies that put him in office and understand those folk on the right haven't moved off that opposition nal dime. they're going to pose just about everything he does. >> thanks for your thoughts. we'll take a short break. >> though we march to the music of our time, our mission is
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on the steps of the west front of the capitol president obama will be sworn in tomorrow at 11:5 eastern then deliver his second inaugural address, an opportunity given to only 16 of his presidential predecessors. and the crowds have been arriving here in washington all week for tomorrow's public ceremony. nbc's peter alexander is at the white house for us. and the president's swearing-in gains him admission into another exclusive club. let's talk about which one that is, peter. >> alex, good to visit with you
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right now officially. that swearing-in ceremony just a short time ago satisfies the constitutional requirement for him now to begin his second term. so we are now in the president's second term. but there are all sorts of challenges, and it won't be hard for mr. obama to see them. he just needs to look in the presidential rear-view mirror. preparing to make that inaugural walk down pennsylvania avenue for the second time, president obama will join an exclusive club within a club, one of only 17 two-term american president, all the while aware that membership can come at a price. >> i'm more than familiar with all the literature about presidential overreach in second terms. we are very cautious about that. >> reporter: historians say he's right to be cautious. >> the dangerous president is not one who feels power, it's one who feels he does not have new enough power. >> reporter: that quest for power has made many presidents stumble badly. from fdr's failed push to pack the supreme court with judges
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who would embrace his new deal to richard nixon. >> i am not a crook. >> reporter: whose desire to destroy his political enemies led to the watergate scandal and ultimately his resignation. >> i take full responsibility. >> reporter: then of course ronald reagan, whose second term was jeopardized by the arms for hostages scandal known as iran/contra. it was bill clinton's personal behavior that got him into hot water. >> i did not have sexual relations with that woman, miss lewinsky. >> reporter: the fallout following his affair with an intern consumed a year of his presidency. when clinton survived an impeachment trial, "saturday night live" dubbed him the ultimate comeback kid. >> i am bulletproof. >> i earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now i intend to spend it. >> reporter: despite that pledge in 2004, george w. bush's second term was marred by a slew of bad headlines from escalating violence in iraq to his administration's response to hurricane katrina.
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>> doing a heck of a job. >> reporter: still second terms can offer a shot at redemption. take reagan paving the way for the end of the cold war. >> mr. gorbachev, tear down this wall! >> reporter: humor can also go a long way, like when bill clinton with a little help from his wife mocked his own lame-duck status. with this unforgettable video from his final months in office. >> i really think bill has everything under control. >> wait, wait, wait, wait! >> reporter: and of course depending upon what happens four years from now it may well be bill clinton making more lunches for his wife as she could potentially be among those vying for a chance to call the white house home. but as it comes to the second-term agenda for the president, the first thing at the top is complete your remarks for tomorrow's inaugural address, roughly 24 hours from now. we are told by valerie jarrett, one of the president's closest
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advis advisers, that those are done. >> and i'll bet they are great. peter alexander, thank you so much. let's bring the panel in. presidential historian michael beschloss, "washington post" columnist sally quinn, james peterson, director of africana studies and associate professor of english at lehigh university and eleanor clift, contributor to "newsweek" and "the daily beast." michael, as we pick up where peter was leaving off here, you look at some of these curses and second-term president is sis, no joke at all. nixon water gate, reagan iran/contra. we have the impeachment, which we also addressed, of president clinton. george w. bush had hurricane katrina and all the malfeasance that came as a result of that, the beginning of the great recession. so is this just recent look -- when you look in history, are there others that have had this same sort of precedence? >> yeah, and i think the biggest theme is that oftentimes -- and not true this time -- a
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second-term president feels fear, oftentimes he won't have enough power to do the things he wants. franklin roosevelt in 1937 got in the biggest landslide in presidential history. the congress was more democratic than it had been in that century, has ever been since then, yet he saw the supreme court overruling program after program of his so he decided to come back and ask congress to be able to pack the courts with justices of his own choosing. they slapped it down, had a lot to do with that being a miserable term nap's what barack obama was talking about when he said overreach. >> james, i'm curious about potential powder kegs here. without thinking about things like natural disasters that could come along, what are things that you see as potentially plaguing this second term? does the arab spring and some negative fallout from that terrorism, anything else just -- >> bypass the natural disaster piece so quickly because i think that climb change is something that is not as random as we think it is. so this administration, because i think it owes it to the folk
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who put them in place, has to be knowledgeable about how our environment is going to unfold in the next several years. you can hedge against some of the natural disaster, one making sure fema is on point, two addressing climate change, the root cause. when you look at the arab spring and the middle east, that's a complicated issue. part of what we're dealing with here is when you're leader of the free world for four years you have four years to deal with a lot of different crises. when you're in for eight years, twice as many term things can happen. in that kind of environment, i think it's very, very difficult to wrestle with or more me protry to predict what may or may not happen in the middle east but it seems pretty clear the obama administration is moving more towards a strategy and tactics, a smaller footprint in the middle east, right, less intervention oriented and more strategic. if you look at the selections for his defense team, he's interested in prosecuting the war on terror in a very different way. at the end of the day, i hope the middle east works some of its issues out without a lot of
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u.s. intervention, but we can't predict what may or may not happen in the next four years in that region of the world. >> interesting because robert gibbs echos the sentiments james is sharing with regard to the time this president has. and robert says a year and a half at best to get something actually accomplished. it's sort of a myth when a president is re-elected. four more years. you hear the chants of people. not so much. >> two max i would think. >> i think probably the biggest potential disaster would be a terrorist attack in this country. why it hasn't happened since 9/11, i don't know. >> welet's hope it's vigilance. >> i hope it is. how we respond will be huge, how the president responds will be huge. i think that given the situation with obama and the various i remember shoes he's tackling, he now is taking on things he didn't quite dare to do in his
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first term because he thought they would not be politically accept to believe the majority. >> gun control. >> gun control is perfect thing. you know how he felt about gun control. obviously the shooting in connecticut was a catalyst for this. but he was able to sort of leap on it and say this is what we're going to do. i think that -- i think education is something that has fallen by the wayside in his administration. i think he has to go back at that. i think he has a lot on his plate in the next two years. he can accomplish it unless something terrible happens. >> he does. eleanor, when you look among the things the president has on his agenda, talking about jobs, dealing with the deficit, getting out of afghanistan. imgrapgs. not small goals. what are his chances of getting thinged accomplished? >> i think there's a path on immigration and that would probably be done soonler rather
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than later. i remember rahm emanuel saying never let a crisis go to waist waste. the republicans have a crisis in terms of attracting hispanic voters. so they need to deal with immigration reform. is prospects for that look very good. you look at the previous president, what tripped them up, you didn't mention lyndon johnson, but his presidency got devoured by the war in vietnam. he had a terrific legislative record. this president is very careful about getting this country involved in another international crisis, war. he's overly cautious and is getting us out of afghanistan, whether that's a good or bad idea. it's coming to an end. he's very much aware of history. i think we can check the box on the personal life. i have confidence he's not going to get in trouble in his personal life. i think the legislative
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confrontations are the toughest for him around the the budget and deficit because the congress, if the republicans are really determined, they could eat up every legislative day with fighting about the budget. >> personal problems i don't think is on anybody's radar. eleanor clift, james peterson, sally quinn, michael beschloss, a pleasure having you all. thanks so much. in president obama's first inaugural address, he optimistically spoke of remaking america. what will he say or should he say in tomorrow's address? [ male announcer ] research suggests cell health plays a key role throughout our lives. one a day men's 50+ is a complete multivitamin designed for men's health concerns as we age. it has 7 antioxidants to support cell health. one a day men's 50+. olaf gets great rewards for his small business! pizza!
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president obama's second term in office is under way. the president taking the oath about 90 minutes ago in a private ceremony in the blue room at the white house. supreme court justice john roberts swore in the president as he will in tomorrow's public re-enactment ceremony at the capitol. welcome back to "weekends with alex witt." as we come to you from washington for the 57th presidential inauguration. tomorrow's public ceremony holds the fitting honor of taking place on martin luther king jr. day at 11:5 eastern, america's first african-american president will take the oath of office and usher in his second term. joining me now is u.s. congressman and civil rights legend john lewis. representative lewis, so glad to have you here on this momentous day. thanks for joining us. >> thank you for having me today. >> well, when you think back on all the years of struggle, the lives lost, the blood shed, what does it mean to you to see the
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nation's fist african-american president take the oath of office for a second time? >> well, it mean ags great deal to me and to our nation. it is almost unreal, almost unbelievable through all of the struggle, through all of the suffering and pain, through the beatings, duress, to jailing, it is historic. as president lyndon johnson said almost 48 years ago when he spoke to the congress, he said it's like history and faith coming together. he was talking about the need to pass a voting rights act. just think, less than 50 years ago many of the people that voted for president barack obama couldn't register, couldn't vote. they had to pass a legislative test. some were asked to count the number of jelly beans in a jar. so four years ago i cried. i cried when the president took
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the oath of office. i cried tears of happiness, tears of joy. it says something about america. the progress in are laying down the burden of race. >> you addressed the past and the president but as we look to the future, what are the most important issues you would like to see the president address in his second term? >> i want to see this president lead, and i know he will lead. he must lead not just in america but around the world. he must help us create a nation, a society, a world community at peace with itself. to get us to move away from violence, from guns, from war. and he can do it. me must do it. he must continue to inspire people at home and abroad. >> tell me your thoughts on the criticisms recently about the
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lack of diversity among the president's new cabinet appointees at this point. what do you think about that? i'm not that troubled because i know this president will do the right thing. i think we're going to see more minorities, more women in his cabinet. he's not finished yet. give him a chance. give him a little time. >> in terms of time, there's a little bit more time now, this possible short-term debt creel eight greemt from the gop. how do you think this president will capitalize on that? do you think he'll be successful avoiding a terrible bruising battle over the debt ceiling? >> i think the president will be successful. the president won, and he won big, and people must respect that. he has the know-how, the skill,
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the gut to lead. he must tell people when he speak tomorrow during his inaugural that we must come together and look out for the common good and work together and be prepared to compromise. >> but that art of compromise is something we have not seen much of lately in this nation's capital on capitol hill. without a re-election campaign looming ahead, do you think the parties will be able to better work together with this this president in his second term? >> i think we all must work together with this president, not just democrat, not just liberals, but republicans and conservatives. if people fail to come together and work together the republican party will be a party of the past. >> tomorrow is a big day, a great day. a man you called your brother would have been 84.
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what is his legacy today? how will you read that? >> well, it's a different day. it's not just dr. king's birthday celebration, but it's also the 50th anniversary this year of his historic speech during the march on washington, the "i have a dream" speech. and since this president been elected, there is a memorial to dr. martin luther king jr. on the mall. it's not just abraham lincoln or washington or jefferson or roosevelt but also standing nearby martin luther king jr. and it says something for our nation that we're going to create a beloved community, we're going to create a society that is free of racism and bigotry and no one will be left out or left behind. doesn't matter whether you're black or white lashgs tino, asian-american, native american. it doesn't matter where you're
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straight or gay. dr. king legacy is saying that we are one people, we are one family, we are one house. we make up the american house, the american family. >> amen to that, representative john lewis. thanks for your time. >> thank you. >> in a moment, the big three on how president obama can bridge the political divide in washington. ♪ [ slap! ] [ male announcer ] your favorite foods fighting you? fight back fast with tums. calcium-rich tums starts working so fast you'll forget you had heartburn. ♪ tum tum tum tum tums
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clinton presidential campaign doug hataway. lots to talk about. ladies first. you know i like to do that. talk about the second act here because the last inauguration was huge. >> it was. >> this year's is a bit pared down, only two official inaugural balls. how does this inauguration compare to the first one? >> it does feel different. we won't have the millions on the mall last time, a lot of us were partying last night, not as many parties this time. what was interesting, people were so optimistic and hopeful. here is this historic figure and the first african-american in president obama being sworn in, lots of hope that day. what was interesting is obama met that day with a bet pretty somber speech. he talked about the winter of our hardship, talked about the storms that may come. and i think in some ways that's where the country is now. we've been through so much over these last decades in terms of unemployment. and i think people are meeting this moment with a little bit
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more guarded optimism than they had last time. >> so, doug, what do you see as the president's biggest obstacles he faces looking ahead to this term that he didn't necessarily have in the first? are there different ones? >> the most glaring is is the republican-controlled house of representatives, which he didn't have when he first stepped into washington. >> thus health care passed. >> yeah. and they're not inclined to cooperate with him and put ideology and politics aside in my opinion. another thing going on is deficit politics. i'm not saying just the deficit itself, which with a balanced approach we can take care of like we did in the '90s after bush one. i think deficit politics, there's a fear of it, it's ginned up, becomes a big obstacle to doing things he wants to do and that the country needs like investing in our economic infrastructure, improving public education, jump-starting new industries to keep us competitive, that sort of thing. i think that's going to be a big obstacle to a lot of things in the second term. >> he touched on the deep division that marked certainly the second part of his first term, robert.
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gridlock in congress. what is the gop's strategy for working with this president in the second term? because surely they don't want to be labeled as obstructionist for the next four years. >> the posture of the gop for the first term is to deny this president the second term. now that he is in his second term, i think what the republicans will do most likely is let's see where we can find common ground on immigration, see if we can find it on deficit spending. look, the president has said he wants to do immigration, wants to do some type of reining in of government spending. there's some common themes there. let's be honest about this. this president is already a second-term lame-duck president. so he really has 14 to 16 months to kind of get his agenda through. i suspect the last two years of his presidency will most likely be overseas. >> do you all three agree with that, 14 to 16 months? >> i don't know if it's that long. eight months? by the time we go into 2014 the eye will be on those midterms. they are very aware -- >> what's up with the republican being the optimist here?
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>> yeah. but just to go back to malia for a second because this is important. second-term inaugurations is almost like getting married for the second time to the first person. you're very happy and optimistic but you've been down this road before. the honeymoon is a little different. >> let's look at what we have biting at the bit. expectations for tomorrow. what do you expect the president to lay out in his speech? >> i think pig by gaking on what robert said about the commonality and the sense that there are some common ground here. i think that's what he's going to do. he's going to call for unity, this idea we should all be repairers of the breach as clinton said in his second inaugur inaugural. they have seen this as a sort of i guess grand vision that he'll lay out, where he wants to see the country, a call for responsibility, a call for grassroots activism among his base, specifically, and everyone. and then for the state of the union, more of a laundry list
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about policy, around education and climate change and energy. so that's what i think we'll see tomorrow. >> so, robert, from the gop point of view, what do you want to see in this speech? do you want to hear an air of bipartisanship? or do you want the president to lay it out there and say this is what i want to do as if gop, i'm putting you on alert, this is what i want to do? >> it's a combination of both. the second thing, we're so in these labels and these boxes, left versus right, red versus blue, conservative versus liberal. we just had this national conversation over the last 12 months, meaning the last presidential election year. i want this president not only to lead but i also want to hear we're all americans and all in this together. so to the extent that we could have a nonpartisan event, if you will, in washington, d.c., i think that's hopeful for republicans and democrats and independents and young and old, all those labels i said i hope we're not -- i hope we can all become one tomorrow. >> doug, your expectations and what you hope to see tomorrow? >> i think we're saying the same thing. that's what inauguration time is for, to bring the country together after a divisive sort
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of period. hard to do in this political and media culture we're in. we get a day to try, say we're all in this together. i know he'll do that and the country wants to hear it. but of course the proof comes in both sides coming together and trying to find common ground. >> in the spirit of bipartisanship, we're ending it here. thank you all so much. >> welcome to d.c. >> thank you. glad to be here. on this the eve of martin luther king day, thoughts about the dream from his eldest son in just a moment. i'll ask martin luther king iii what president obama has done to help more americans achieve the dream. ♪ [ male announcer ] why do more emergency workers everywhere trust duracell...?? duralock power preserve. locks in power for up to 10 years in storage. now...guaranteed. duracell with duralock. trusted everywhere.
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welcome back to "weekends withal a lex vit" we are looking at live pictures of the capitol and the theme of tomorrow is "the freedom of america."
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and we are looking at a statue from 1863 president obama will be sworn in f followed by the inaugural address at noon tomorrow coincides with the national holiday that honors civil rights leader martin lu th luther king jr. and tomorrow, he will take the oath on the reverend's old and tattered traveling bible and on abraham lip con's bible, the president who ended slavery and joining me now is martin lu th luther king the third i am so honored to have you in the studio, sir. it is a busy weekendment your sentiment sentiments as we were talking about what tomorrow is, this national holiday, and the fact that it is so fitting that this president takes the second oath of office and the public
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ceremony tomorrow, what does that mean to you and your family? >> the fact that the president takes his oath with with the bible is just incredible. it is really is amazing, but also in this year of the phenomenal anniversaries, and 150th anniversary of the emancipation proclamation signing and the 45th anniversary of the sanitation work strike where my dad was tragically kill and the anniversary of the poor people's campaign which is very important, and the 50th anniversary of the march in washington, all of that is going to come this year it is quite amazing. >> with regard to the bible, how did you find out that the president obama had chosen your father's bible? >> ewe got a call from his offie stating that they wanted to, the president would like to use one of dr. king's bibles and we were like, oh, my gosh. and then putting it together, we realized that it was king day and then the hope for us, quite
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frankly, is that we know that the president will derive inspiration, but more importantly, the hope is that the president along with congress will derive inspiration to get something done the kind of spiritual inspiration that dad derived, and dad used it when he was preparing for the first sermon at the montgomery church at the dexter avenue baptist church and dad used it all over the road to derive inspiration, and the hope is that the nation will get inspiration as well. >> you mentioned all of the notable days in history that are all converging here in 2013, and among those, the "i have a dream" speech 50 years ago this summer. how does president obama fit into what your father was talking about? >> well, i think that the number one, the president did something that many presidents thus far have not been able to do by providing health care for everyone in our nation. so that is one of the things i mean, there are five or six things that i think that people
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should have in this country with all of the wealth that exists, and even with the terrible economy, housing, a decent home and education and the best education and health care, and a decent job and justice and the president and his team will continue to create the climate along with congress for this to happen, and so he is well on the way and we had to address immigration policy which we will do and he is talk about gun control i am sure we will get something done on that and that has not happened in many years and those are some of the things that my father would want to see, but i will finally see most importantly, my dad was working on the poor people's campaign, and bringing together poor blacks, whites, native americans and americans from all walks of life saying let's create the climate for the people to have a living wage, and that is one of the biggest challenges that the country will have and we will have to look at that.
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>> and you are echoing the same sentiments of reverend jesse jackson, because he said the same thing, it is the bridging the gap of the haves and the have nots and how to bring together the poor. and how will the president address that and how can he do that? any practical steps? >> well, number one, the president has constantly promoted entrepreneurship and that is where it starts and not ends. we have to work with the education and the primary and the secondary school systems are preparing the young people. we have to capture the young people at an early age there are so many kids that we know, black, white, latino and hispanic that are dropping out of school everyday when i was in school, we had truant officers to make sure that you could not do that and today, it is like, well, we don't do that. well, today, these kids are operating like they won't be anything, and we have to start with the primary educational system. >> thank you so much for coming
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to hem us wrap up this show and being here in washington with you particularly on this momentous day and it is a big day tomorrow for the family. >> yes, thank you. >> that is a wrap on this sunday edition of "this weekend with alex witt," and coming up next is "meet the press with david gregory." have yourself a great day i'm alex vit [ male announcer ] from our nation's networks... ♪ ...to our city streets... ♪ ...to skies around the world... ♪ ...northrop grumman's security solutions are invisibly at work, protecting people's lives... [ soldier ] move out! [ male announcer ] ...without their even knowing it. that's the value of performance. northrop grumman. let's get a recap, merv. [ merv ] thanks, other merv. mr. clean magic eraser extra power was three times faster on permanent marker. elsewhere against dirt, it was a sweep, with scuffed sports equipment...
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